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Color and the Healthcare Worker Uniform

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I’ve received some really good questions lately about what color is ideal for dementia-friendly environments.  I think this topic makes for a really fun discussion, one that probably has no one clear answer but lots of common sense ideas.  Let’s discuss…

Thank you so much for your great website/blog!  A first-timer here and looking forward to reading more.  Presently, I am researching the benefit of color as it pertains to the color of caregiver/nursing staff uniforms and how it effects the perception of care (caring) of the patient/client.  Presently, the nursing staff uniform is white with support staff uniforms wearing navy or black.  Our unit (Geropsych) recently moved to a new SNF facility and occupy a portion of the facility which was “modified” to support the unit.  The new unit provides a much improved environment for our patients care and well-being than our previous location.  It is my hope that I may find research supporting the benefit of moving away from the traditional color of healthcare to possibly a more therapeutic uniform (approach).  I appreciate any information you may be able to provide.  Thank you! – BG

I’ve heard this debate before- using uniforms in health care settings to help identify health care workers easily, but not making the environment seem too clinical or sterile by having a bunch of labcoats walking around. The “street clothes” vs “scrubs” discussion has been around forever.

This would be my approach.  Rather than looking for research- which I have not, exactly, in reference to healthcare worker uniforms- ask yourself what the residents of a geropsych unit need to feel…  Safe?  Cared for?  In the competent care of?  Relaxed? familiar?  Warm and fuzzy?  BG, please chime in here…

I really want to hear others’ thoughts on this.

Do you think it would be best to use bright and colorful scrubs?  Or clinical white labcoats?  Or a hodge podge of varied styles?  Scrubs that are green look too surgical. Scrubs with teddy bears look too pediatric.  Is maroon more sedating than navy?  Do we go with primary colors?  Or shades of one color?

Should it be more occupation based- clinical, clerical, maintenance?  In that case, does context have more value than the actual color?

This is a fascinating topic.  I appreciate the effort to really examine this and try to “get it right”.  I’ll ask some of my colleagues to jump in. Let’s discuss!

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